xpost Using exaggeration to make a point. If bloggers genuinely scoop paid journalism, then fair play to them. And often they do - not having the turning circle of a supertanker means they usually are first on to new things. What's more, only a fool would delude themselves into thinking that someone who gets paid for writing is ipso facto a better writer than someone who doesn't. But I think the point about being able to do in-depth journalism without financial resources behind them holds as true for good music writing as it does for traditional news writing v citizen journalism. Even Pitchfork hasn't truly been able to do that - its core is still reviews and thinkpieces. They haven't exactly thrown themselves into reported pieces. When the best bloggers are able to monetise (errgh) their relationship with their readers to such an extent that they can do whatever they want is the day that traditional paid-media music journalism really dies.
― ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 16:00 (ten years ago) link
also, while i do think quality of thinking/writing about music (sticking to reviews & thinkpieces rather than investigative story-finding) doesn't correlate to paid/unpaid writers...the best unpaid ones should absolutely be paid! so many excellent writers have moved from unpaid blogging to paid journalism over the past 10 years. (and without the motivational force of being paid, a lot of excellent writers tend to fall out of the game, consistently not find time for it etc.)
um idk where i was going with that i typed it kinda piecemeal, i think the short version is "yes, duh, good music writers should be paid"
― degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Friday, 9 December 2011 16:15 (ten years ago) link
Big Society Music Journalism
― dog latin, Friday, 9 December 2011 16:18 (ten years ago) link
I think album reviews, these days, are little more than a sop, something for advertisers to place ads against. But the money that they bring in is what pays for the time and effort and good writer can put into a worthwhile piece. Someone writing for free likely can't devote several days to chasing down the interviews and researching the best possible story.
― ItHappens, Friday, December 9, 2011 9:26 AM (3 hours ago) Bookmark Permalink
lets not pretend it was better prior to the internet. i honestly thought 99% of music writing was awful; it was the internet that helped me find writers who i felt were actually talking about things in a way i could relate to
― joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:46 (ten years ago) link
I C+P'd the wrong thing i think. oh well
It also helps that nowadays a music blogger doesn't have to describe the music very well: they can just give you a link and you can listen to it for yourself.
― o. nate, Friday, 9 December 2011 18:50 (ten years ago) link
xpost - Wouldn't disagree with that at all. I'm not sticking up for puff interviews and crap "humour" and cursory album reviews. Just for the things that paid media does do better - which is give time and resources.
― ItHappens, Friday, 9 December 2011 23:33 (ten years ago) link
implication here is that you actually think music writing is better (ie, less than 99% awful) on the internet...? this is baffling.
― Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 9 December 2011 23:38 (ten years ago) link
i think he means there's more good stuff and/or the good stuff is easier to find, even if the overall percentage of good stuff is lower....which is almost undeniably true for MOST mediums and artforms post-internet
― some dude (Mr. Stevenson #2), Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:01 (ten years ago) link
― joey joe joe junior shabadoo, Saturday, 10 December 2011 00:06 (ten years ago) link
I agree 100% and it links up nicely with my answer to the thread premise. With so much content to choose from, it can be easier to zero in on specific stuff you like (popular or whatever) and not feel like yr "missing out" by not engaging with the charts or whatever because you've got too much other stuff to check out that you're more likely to enjoy. It's different for critics, maybe, (I'm not one) in that they have more of an obligation to engage with the charts.. Maybe obligation is too strong a word, I just mean to some extent it's part of the job description, right?
― moonbop, Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:53 (ten years ago) link
Anyway, as a listener, being more "demanding" of music has been good for me, I guess. Life is short.
― moonbop, Saturday, 10 December 2011 01:54 (ten years ago) link
yeah i'm in agreement with deej that 7 or so years ago, the best music writing was to be found online, but these days that's only rarely the case tbh
― degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:09 (ten years ago) link
disagree with that...but i'd say nowadays the best music writing isn't formalised, it's discussion. like here. everyone has a piece.
― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:41 (ten years ago) link
yes we fucking get it already ronan, you despise music criticism and think it's a completely worthless profession. now stfu
― degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:55 (ten years ago) link
is there someone with you as you post?
― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 11:58 (ten years ago) link
Do you mean online as in unpaid lex? I'm not being pedantic as in "The Guardian is online too you know" - more that there's a fair amount of criticism which is both paid but also obviously "online" writing with varying degrees of similarity to the print media version.
My favourite piece of music writing in the last few years is probably Tom's column here:
Which is sorta in the halfway camp of being music writing that is paid, but probably also couldn't exist except in a post-blog world - not only literally in the sense that Tom was and partly remains an unpaid online music writer (and one of the best or even the best, IMO), but more in the sense of speaking to and and from and about and in the style of online free music writing and discussion, such that it seems like a really happy accident that there's a payment for the writer out of it.
There's no necessary distinction between Poptimist and Popular, beyond the fact that:
(a) one is paid and one is not; and
(b) Popular has an amazing post-publication collaborative culture of elucidation amongst (many of) its readers (which I've always admired from the sidelines), something which theoretically could happen with a paid gig but I've not seen any examples of.
But then Tom is pretty much the ideal of the online dabbler, so is hardly representative as such.
― Tim F, Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:43 (ten years ago) link
Tom is an exceptional case: what separates him from the vast majority of self-publishers is that paying publishers also want to publish him. I strongly suspect in the pre-internet age he'd have been one of those people who did occasional essayism alongside a day job. The internet just meant he didn't have to hustle for the chance to write those essays - people came to him.
― ItHappens, Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:58 (ten years ago) link
well yeah i meant unpaid, or not "professional" or whatever. (please don't be pedantic with that terminology, i'm hungover.) there's no substantive difference between those and tom's guardian column either.
for all that lots of professional outlets are trying to replicate it, i can't see them ever matching that culture of community discussion - it's a fundamental structural problem, most commenters on the guardian seem to take a ronanesque YOU'RE ALL SHIT AND SO IS THIS MUSIC line as their default starting point
― degas-dirty monet (lex pretend), Saturday, 10 December 2011 12:59 (ten years ago) link
i'm making points i believe in, which are not actually targeted at you at all, but i suppose you enjoy roaring at people online so go ahead, i wouldn't worry about how it makes you appear.
anyway i think with online newspaper articles conceptually it all feels a bit odd now, it's a pretty awkward position for the writer to be in to have to write simultaneously for an audience that knows nothing about what you're talking about and one that may know anything/everything and wants to criticise the paper for being out of touch, the internet makes potential next door neighbours of everyone.
i suppose there are ways around this, but it's not easy. i think newer websites have this problem too, resident advisor obviously.
at a certain point though i just question the need for a central voice...if it's just attempting to speak to a group of people who are too disparate.
largely though i think the culture of discussion that exists away from the paid or trad outlets is better, it's stronger and it's worth more and above all you don't have to do the job for a living to be part of it.
none of which i think is negative at all on my part...it's actually just good that there's a democracy there now in my opinion.
― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:17 (ten years ago) link
Yeah I wasn't trying to nitpick! I think it's interesting to try and place stuff like Tom's work (in its multiple guises) within this discussion.
Mark Sinker and Frank Kogan are immediate further examples of writers whose work it seems to me both can work very well in the context of "ordinary" (post)print journalism but also exceeds beyond the boundaries of what it can allow.
For Frank this was in part solved in the pre-internet age through his zine. He once kindly sent me a few copies of Why Music Sucks, and they're amazing (and contain their own pre-internet version of the Popular community). That approach obviously has its drawbacks in terms of reach, but they're beautiful artifacts.
It strikes me that the biggest shift from the early 00s to now in terms of online music writing is simply the increased sense of disposability - at the point of reception rather than creation. When I first started reading and writing blogs in 2000 my sense of the approach was that you'd really follow the blogs, read everything in them, read the archives (which usually weren't voluminous in 2000, but anyway) - these were works.
Whereas even the best blogs now feel much more disposable and forgettable, and so does professional media online, because the mode of consumption has changed in line with social media - tweet and facebook links and sharing and the like. I feel that our consumption of online media has grown even less moored to the culture of personality of the creator than it used to be. In fact appropriately the most recent and final Poptimist column is about this in part - Tom talks about how using the internet used to be like diving, whereas the "surfing" metaphor only became apt after Web 2.0.
Increasing disposability at the level of production - MP3 blogs etc - add to this, but I think that shift would have occurred in any event.
So it's not surprising that the unpaid online writing which seems most memorable and valuable in retrospect* often is that which is quite formalistic, or in general has strategies for making of itself an artifact less easily subsumed by its (inherent) internet-virality.
*which is different from what is the most valuable music writing in the moment.
― Tim F, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:30 (ten years ago) link
― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011
This presumes there is a 'best fit' with a singular audience. Informal discussion/board type stuff is great yes, but for a particular audience or type of person. You aren't the only kind of audience, what is better for that kind of person, isn't "the best" per se
More formal work is a better fit for different kinds of audiences (possibly most audiences) - obviously if the 'right' writer is being read (often not the case but thats another issue). If my parents, or the people next door, or most of the people in the cafe over the road wanted to read about something - a formal piece in a publication is a better fit for them imo then jumping into forums - which are often really alienating and not particularly helpful especially if you don't know that much about a particular thing.
this is all pretty tangential to the thread now - I think the main thing is, just because a particular thing isn't proving useful to a particular person - it doesn't invalidate its purpose, far from it
― april wowak, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:43 (ten years ago) link
it's a pretty awkward position for the writer to be in to have to write simultaneously for an audience that knows nothing about what you're talking about and one that may know anything/everything and wants to criticise the paper for being out of touch
― dog latin, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:47 (ten years ago) link
Thats exactly the thing - multiple and disparate audiences
― april wowak, Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:52 (ten years ago) link
xpost i didn't really mean just here specifically or just forums. this place was practically built on the idea that conversations and personal experiences about music are the most important thing tho...and i largely agree with that still.
this is true but it's less and less true all the time, don't you think? it is a huge tangent - how do you measure the usefulness of an opinion or argument anyway? how does a paid site say "we're doing well here"...
online these days it's probably hits, which is another huge tangent.
― SandboxGarda (HI IT'S RONAN), Saturday, 10 December 2011 13:59 (ten years ago) link